Jan 07 2011

Lively Reads


Harry Potter aficionados know that books can be powerful objects. After all, the books in the Harry Potter movies come to life, with 3D characters popping off the page to talk to the students. At least in Harry Potter, the technique gives students a thorough (and sometimes scary) grasp of the material.

That kind of interactivity soon could be coming to textbooks. The idea behind “augmented books” is to imbue textbooks with elements typically associated with augmented reality – making it possible, for example, for dinosaurs to pop up on the page of a book about the prehistoric era.

Used with special software and a webcam, any existing book can be transformed into an augmented reality-enhanced edition, says Shawn Mahoney of Seymour Community Schools in Seymour, Ind. “Imagine a textbook where the characters pop up and interact or Sacagawea walks out of the forest and talks to the explorers,” he marvels. Innovations such as this “makes history much more real.”